Week 4 – Music in Video Games
This week’s reading covering the issues of relating music into video games challenged me to think about the media I consume in an artistic way. The challenges of keeping emotion through a musical score in a game where the player has control of the actions that occur restricts the composer to either fitting their music to the actions, or changing the actions to fit the music. Most game designers do not want to restrict the movements of the player in order to accommodate the musical score as this reduces the immersion that the player can achieve. Finding a balance between player control and effective use of music is something that Martin O’Donnell is well known for with the success of his compositions in the halo series. The relationship between the game visuals and music is that off necessity, however the ‘linear story telling’ capabilities of a musical score when compared to visuals is clear. (Abraham, B, 2011)
With the average daily time spent playing video games reaching 88 minutes (Digital Australia Report, 2016), the market for interactive media has become of the of the largest and fastest growing industries in Australia. The need for musical composition to accompany these games has grown alongside the visual media. O’Donnell comments on the random nature of ‘forced marriage’ sound synchronisation as a technique used by the growing number of composers looking to access this media format. The trial and error technique that occasionally supplies the viewer with a synchronised and edited feel to their experience, allows for those who haven’t studied music composition to create a score that will eventually fit a set of visuals or commands inputted by the player. This challenged me to look and listen to my own games to study the effect that the music has the player without them consciously understanding what the artist was trying to achieve. I found that most games that I had were effectively mixing the music in the experience as to maximise emersion without reducing the emotional effect that the composition had on the story.
There were occasion sections of action games in which I found the music to be out of place in the environment, including a major key signature piece of music placed in a large battle section of the game. However overall the craftsman ship of mixing achieved in this media makes sure that no one notices the work that is being done by the composer. This is good for the game, but allows the hard work to be mixed into the background unnoticed.
Steven Jones, 2008, ‘Let the games begin, gaming and entertainment amongst college students’, Pew internet & American Life project, Washington D.C <http://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2003/PIP_College_Gaming_Reporta.pdf.pdf>
Jeffrey E. Brand, Stewart Todhunter, 2016, ‘Digital Australa Report 2016’, Bond University, Gold Coast, <http://www.igea.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Digital-Australia-2016-DA16-Final.pdf>
Midnight Music, 2016, ‘The guide to composing music for video games’, Melbourne, viewed August 11th, <https://midnightmusic.com.au/2016/06/the-guide-to-composing-music-for-video-games/>